Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Japan Scraps Plans for New Nuclear Plants

This decision by the Japanese PM reinforces the resurgent awareness that the benefits of nuclear energy are not worth the devastation that accidents wreak on humanity, as the Fukushima disaster has demonstrated so strikingly. Hopefully we can achieve a similar consensus here in the States.

New Yorkers Show the Faces of the Anti-Fracking Movement in Albany

New York State currently has a six-month moratorium on fracking in place and there is a call to ban the water and toxin intensive, environmentally dangerous hydraulic fracturing technique altogether. Certainly we would all agree that uses millions of gallons of water and over 900 chemicals should be subject to the protections embodied by EPA's Safe Drinking Water Act, right?

Food & Water Watch Action page to add your voice to the movement to protect public drinking water threatened by the fracking rush.

Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) information:

PA Oil and Gas Inspectors Free to Issue Violations Without Approval From Top, Enviro Chief Says

Citizens United Decision Profoundly Affects Political Landscape

The Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling has indeed opened the floodgates for special interest money to be showered onto the political landscape. This analysis by the Center For Responsive Politics quantifies the statistical increase of political message funding now prevalent in our country on the part of unions and corporations who previously were restrained from such outlandish spending.

Top findings of the Center's study include:

  • The percentage of spending coming from groups that do not disclose their donors has risen from 1 percent to 47 percent since the 2006 midterm elections
  • 501c non-profit spending increased from zero percent of total spending by outside groups in 2006 to 42 percent in 2010.
  • Outside interest groups spent more on election season political advertising than party committees for the first time in at least two decades, besting party committees by about $105 million.
  • The amount of independent expenditure and electioneering communication spending by outside groups has quadrupled since 2006.
  • Seventy-two percent of political advertising spending by outside groups in 2010 came from sources that were prohibited from spending money in 2006

Wisconsin Republicans rush agenda before recalls

In an attempt to advance their pro-business, anti-worker and anti-environmental agenda prior to the potential recall of GOP state senators in June, Walker's Republican Assembly is frantically pushing through contentious legislation with a minimum of public disclosure and debate.

Big Bank Backlash: From Coast to Coast People are Moving their Money

People around the nation are continuing to put pressure on big banks for their advocacy of policies to undermine the middle class as well as the unethical and widespread pursuit of foreclosures in the wake of the Great Recession that was brought on by industry practices. Let's not forget that these banking interests have robbed the public trust and need to be broken down into more manageable sizes under renewed regulatory oversight.

Revealed: how seed market is controlled by Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer, Dow & DuPont

The consolidation of the seed market as pursued by biotech companies and their agenda of patenting GM seeds has led to tremendous disruption in the production of food around the world and the extinction of many varieties of crop species anda preponderance of GMO food products in the US and musch of the world.

'Patents exacerbate genetic erosion as they promote monoculture by hindering the development of new seed varieties. In sum, the possible, long term consequences of patents are control of the whole food chain by a few companies,' said the report.

The Union’s ‘Shoddy’ Aristocracy

I find historical revelations, such as the widespread profiteering during the Civil War, to be immensely interesting and instructive when considering contemporary issues in the US. It's fascinating to learn that the word 'shoddy' originated from the deceptive manufacturing techniques employed by clothing manufacturers during this war that poorly served the soldiers in the war but enriched many unscrupulous businessmen.

"One writer for the New York Tribune painted an equally graphic picture: “Shoddy” was, he wrote,

'poor sleezy stuff, woven open enough for seives [sic], and then filled with shearman’s dust. … Soldiers, on the first day’s march or in the earliest storm, found their clothes, overcoats, and blanket, scattering to the wind in rags or dissolving into their primitive elements of dust under the pelting rain.'"

War Against the Weak

The GOP agenda, defined by measures to strip collective bargaining rights of public sector employees, weaken the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and the pro-corporate Supreme Court's decision to preclude class action suits in favor of binding arbitration written into consumer contracts, amounts to an attack on the rights of each and every individual citizen. Without the ability to join together in collective action, the general public's democratic rights will be eviscerated.

Another Big Business Win in the U.S. Supreme Court

David Arkush of Public Citizen writes:
The case's potential impact is breathtaking. Corporations can now prevent consumers and small business owners from exercising what is often their only real option for challenging companies that defraud them by millions or even billions of dollars: banding together to file class action lawsuits. The case could be equally devastating to millions of non-union employees, who need class actions to challenge systemic discrimination by their employers. The Supreme Court has given major corporations the green light to engage in nearly limitless wrongdoing against others, so long as they do it in relatively small dollar amounts, which ensures that no one can afford to challenge the misconduct without a class action.